NEW YORK—Microsoft Corp. today offered a few new glimpses into its tools roadmap and enhanced its industry partner program to further grow its ecosystem around its tools.
Speaking at the VSLive! New York 2003 conference, Eric Rudder, senior vice president of Server and Tools at Microsoft, gave glimpses of future versions of Microsofts Visual Studio .Net and the .Net Framework, including the next version of the technology, code-named Whidbey, and the subsequent version code-named Orcas.
“We just went beta with Whidbey in the past week,” said Rudder at the end of his keynote presentation, although later Microsoft officials said there has not yet been a public beta review of the product. “We have given the code to a very close set of partners,” said Ari Bixhorn, lead product manager for Visual Studio .Net. A developer who was among those to get the early Whidbey software called it more alpha than beta. Rudder and Bixhorn said Microsoft will be giving the first public early Whidbey beta disks to developers at the upcoming Microsoft professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles in October. A more mature beta will follow in the first half of 2004, with final shipment of the product expected in the second half of next year, Bixhorn said.
Throughout his talk Rudder emphasized the significance of Web services in Microsofts overall strategy for developers and identified Visual Studio .Net as the premier environment for building Web services because of the Web Services Enhancements (WSE) technology Microsoft makes available to developers.
Rudder said the Whidbey version of Visual Studio .Net will be aligned with the next version of Microsoft SQL Server, which is code-named Yukon; while the subsequent release of the tool, code-named Orcas, will be aligned with the next release of Windows, which is code-named Longhorn.
Whidbey will feature a number of enhancements, not least of which will be enhanced modeling support, through Whitehorse, the code name for the next version of modeling technology to come from Microsoft, Rudder said.
In addition, Whidbey will provide enhanced debugging and no-touch deployment, said Bixhorn. And when Bixhorn said the Edit and Continue feature will be included in the Whidbey release the crowd of developers cheered.
Meanwhile, Microsoft will provide enhanced support for the .Net Compact Framework in Whidbey, including support for the Smartphone, Windows CE 4.2-based devices and the latest versions of the PocketPC, Bixhorn said. New controls in the product will allow developers to write less code to perform basic tasks. And the .Net Framework version of Whidbey will support 64-bit processors, Rudder said.
In addition, Microsoft is “building community into the product itself,” Rudder said. The product will feature things like online forum capabilities, community help and other mechanisms
Whidbey also will feature support for generics and partial classes, Bixhorn said.
Meanwhile Orcas will support things like managed interfaces based on managed code, enhanced user interface features, an improved data model and other new capabilities tied to the Longhorn operating system, which is expected in 2005.
To illustrate some of the broad industry support for the Visual Studio .Net technology, Microsoft had IBM Corp. on hand at the event to demonstrate the integration of IBMs DB2 database with .Net.
Bob Picciano, director of database technology at IBM, said, “We thought it would be good to take DB2 and bring it to the Visual Studio Net program. We wanted to extend Visual Studio .Net to be a premier applications development environment for DB2.”
Leon Katsnelson, senior product manager of DB2 at IBM in Somers, NY, told the VSLive! audience: “The most important constituent of the DB2 family is you the Visual Studio .Net developer.”
Katsnelson said IBM includes support for DB2 CLR (Common Language Runtime) stored procedures, where a developer can load the Microsoft CLR into the DB2 address space and then use any CLR-supported language to build applications.
Microsoft also announced the expansion of its Visual Studio partnering program, renamed the Visual Studio Industry Partner (VSIP) program from the Visual Studio Integration Program. Microsoft started the VSIP program in 1999, and it now has more than 175 partners who have delivered more than 300 products around the Visual Studio platform, said Marie Huwe, a general manager in Microsofts Developer and Platform Evangelism division.
The new VSIP gives developers free access to the VSIP software development kit (SDK) and features three levels of participation.
The Affiliate level is the free level of membership for small companies, hobbyists and academic users, who can get free Visual Studio support online and the free SDK. The Alliance level is targeted at tool and component independent software vendors (ISVs) and smaller systems integrators. It costs $3,000 annually to be a member and it includes the SDK, a year of Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscription, joint marketing and participation in a catalog and VSIP logo program. The Premier level costs $10,000 a year and is targeted at large global enterprise ISVs and large systems integrators. At this level members get the shell-only version of the Visual Studio .Net integrated development environment (IDE) to ship with their products. Fujitsu Software Corp., InstallShield Software Corp., and Intel Corp. announced they have joined as Premier VSIP members.
Basim Kadhim, chief architect, languages, at Fujitsu Software, based in Bend, Ore., said Fujitsu already has products shipping with the Premier VSIP partner edition today, including version 2.0 of its COBOL compiler that supports Visual Studio.
“The expansion of the program is a good thing for the [Visual Studio] ecosystem, meanwhile we need to develop our own part of the ecosystem,” Kadhim said.
Kadhim said Visual Studio .Net and being a member of the VSIP program has been beneficial to Fujitsu Software in its legacy migration initiative, and he said lead generation, in terms of “substantial leads” is four times what it used to be before the company joined VSIP back in 1999 as a new member.